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Messages - janemcgary

General Discussion / Re: Dividing Scoliopus bigelovii
February 03, 2023, 05:32:57 PM
When dividing tangled roots, it helps to spray the mass with a hose nozzle, at the right pressure to exert some force without breaking them.
General Discussion / Re: Cleaning over spring bulbs
January 26, 2023, 03:10:58 PM
Robin asked where the rake was used. Not in the bulb house, where maintenance is all by hand, and not on the rock gardens, which are steep and rugged. I use it in ordinary planting areas among shrubs, perennials, and bulbs on flat or nearly flat ground, where the wind doesn't blow off the leaves. Most of the leaves are from my neighbors' gigantic old oak trees.
I've even encountered claims that gardening is bad for the planet because it introduces plants that aren't "native." A short-term view that ignores glaciations, global warm periods, and continental drift, not to mention the activities of insects and birds. Just read that 1/3 of carbon emissions at present result from agriculture, though a lot of that is from livestock. I'm not giving up my exotic plants, or my dual-fuel kitchen range (there's a movement to ban those, but I can't imagine cooking on a burner without a visible indication of its heat), but may buy an EV soon. Guilty every time the gas furnace fires up. My friends know what else I'm guilty over. At least we're on hydroelectric here. Shocking statistics about gaming computers, David, and we read that crypto mining is worse.
General Discussion / Juno Iris propagation
January 23, 2023, 12:01:42 PM
Irises of the Scorpiris ("Juno") section have a bulb with thick roots attached at the base. Writers caution that the roots must not be detached from the bulb, but when lifting a crowded clump it's difficult to avoid that. Yesterday I found, in the back of the potting bench, a pot of such detached bulbs (lifted in August) that I had set aside (without soil), planning to pot them, and forgot about them. Some moisture had reached them in the leaky shed, and I was surprised to see that about half of them were producing live roots. I potted them up and hope to have a good new planting of Iris warleyensis, having grown the parent plant from a Josef Halda collection in the mid-1990s. So don't despair if your Juno bulbs lose their roots!
General Discussion / Cleaning over spring bulbs
January 21, 2023, 06:15:57 PM
When the snowdrops and other early bulbs emerge, they may still have winter debris over them. A wonderful tool for cleaning this up is the Bulldog Co. rubber-tined rake. I bought one at least 25 years ago and it's just beginning to deteriorate, so I searched for a replacement and found it on Pottery Barn's website. There are two models, and I prefer the narrow one, "Merlin", for maneuvering among plantings. The strong, flexible rubber tines are as gentle as fingers and will pull fallen leaves off the smallest emerging buds and leaves without damage, provided you use the rake with a quick, light stroke. Highly recommended garden tool.
I don't buy palm oil-containing products, and I support the Rainforest Trust's projects, but it's necessary for people in south and southeast Asia to have cooking oil, so growing it should not be banned. Before someone says people eat too many fats, consider that some fat is necessary for general health, especially in young children; and cooking quickly in oil uses much less fuel than some other methods -- hence the wok.
General Discussion / Re: Temperate Rainforest
January 15, 2023, 02:11:48 PM
Diane's recommendations are spot on. Tropaeolum speciosum might get too enthusiastic for you -- it really took over David Hale's second garden, in rainy Arch Cape, Oregon. Other plants of Chile's Lake District might succeed, though you are a bit colder. David had Lapageria rosea in that garden, and there is a range of beautiful climbing gesneriads; Mitraria has succeeded in warmer Portland gardens. Herbertia lahue will grow for you, though it's rather uninteresting. Many Galanthus (snowdrops) should be happy. The crocus species of the northern Balkan region tolerate a lot of moisture, as does Crocus vernus and its many commercial selections, also C. tommasinianus, and C. speciosus does well in moist sites. You could try the hardy African plants Galtonia and Eucomis, too.
If you mean a kind of support for stems, look up Kinsman Company.
To Bern's question about dogs and rodent control: I raised, trained, and showed Alaskan Malamute dogs for about 40 years, and would have one now if my knees still allowed me to run. In interior Alaska it was fun to watch them hunt voles under the snow, and they adapted the same technique (high pounce, stunning landing, quick dig) in soil after we moved to Oregon. I had a couple of females I could leave loose at night (fenced 10 acres), and they kept all the deer away but were cautious about the elk. They regularly caught rabbits, chipmunks (OK, cute, but pests to pots), field mice, even "mountain beavers" (Oplodontia), pack rats, rats, and moles, though they did not eat the moles, which apparently are unpalatable even to a dog. Coyotes and raccoons were chased away. They did not kill snakes, but they liked to roll on them for the nasty odor. This is, of course, an unspecialized working dog selected for survival!
Mystery Bulbs / Romulea from Libya
January 02, 2023, 11:30:12 AM
A query came via the PBS website from a botanist working on a flora of Libya, to identify a Romulea sp. found there. He has now sent me a set of excellent photos, but I can't seem to copy and paste them individually even within my system, so I can't post one here. There is one Romulea reported from Libya, R. cyrenaica. These photos show a member of the R. bulbocodium group, but with very striking dark purple and bright yellow stripes on the reverse of the tepals. If someone can comment, I will forward the whole message to you, with the 6 .jpg attachments.
General Discussion / Survival of cultivars
December 30, 2022, 04:56:23 PM
A deep dive into back issues of alpine gardening journals led me to notice many award-winning named cultivars of various bulb genera, some of which I had never seen in books, gardens, or catalogs. Most were of UK origin. Mainly those now grown in North America seem to be the ones that were propagated commercially. I wonder how many of the others are still extant in the UK and/or Europe? Do any of you preserve little-known cultivars of, say, Crocus? (I know you preserve those of Galanthus!) What are your hidden treasures? I promise not to write asking for them.
My container plants are on the patio floor and wrapped up under lightweight "mover's quilts." The bulb house denizens are on their own at about 20 F; many are not emerged yet, and most have survived it before. My suburb at the south edge of Portland, Oregon missed the threatened freezing rain so far; ground is covered in graupel, which is dangerous to walk or drive on but doesn't cling to plants. My new high-efficiency furnace stopped working when its condensate drain tube froze in an unthawable place, but I have a secondary furnace in the wing of the house with this nice warm office, and an environmentally offensive wood-burning fireplace elsewhere. Also a pot of cabbage borscht big enough for a soup kitchen.
Going back to the mention of semi-underground greenhouses, yesterday my exploration of ancient AGS journals turned up an article on how one English gardener in 1941 dug a bomb shelter in his back garden, and was inspired to use the angled sandbags-on-metal cover to add a few rocks and a lot of plants to create what might be called an artificial moraine. Nothing can stop a mad gardener -- not even the Blitz.
General Discussion / Re: Proposed reference tool
December 20, 2022, 12:04:27 PM
Thanks for the encouraging replies. Now I have to test a few articles (using e.g. genus+author) against Google to make sure I'm not just duplicating the effort of massive search engines.
It's interesting that Robin Hansen lives nearly 200 miles south of me, and closer to the ocean, but temperatures where I live are quite a bit warmer the past week or so. Just another example of why USDA climate zones (the 1 to 10 ratings) don't apply to the far western states.